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Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
"Sermon on the Mount" (Bloch)
who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his
de ex humon merimnon (PAPMSN) dunatai (3SPPI) prostheinai (AAN)
epi ten helikian autou pecheun ena?: (Mt 5:36; Psalms 39:6; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Luke
12:25,26; 1 Corinthians 12:18)
able to add to his age one cubit? (Young's
How To Handle Fear Part 1
How To Handle Fear Part 2
How To Handle Fear Part 3
How To Handle Fear Part 4
1 Peter 5:7 Notes on
casting your anxiety
What are we to do when we
are worried? Run Into the Strong Tower!
Philippians 4:6 Notes on be
anxious for nothing
Philippians 4:7 Notes on
the peace of God
27. Which of you by
taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
It is a small matter whether we are tall or short; and yet all
the worry in the world could not make us an inch taller. Why,
then, do we give way to care about things which we cannot
alter? If fretting were of any use it would have some excuse;
but as it does no good, let us cease from it. 28, 29. And why
take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin : and yet I
say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not
arrayed like one of these.
Clothes must not be made much of; for in our finest array,
flowers far excel us. We must not be anxious about how we
shall be clad; for the field lilies, not under the gardener’s
care, are as glorious as the most pompous of monarchs; and yet
they enjoy life free from labor and thought. Lovely lilies,
how ye rebuke our foolish nervousness! The array of lilies
comes without fret: why do we kill ourselves with care about
that which God gives to plants which cannot care?
My Lord, I would grow to thy praise as the lily cloth, and be
content to be what thou cost make me, and wear what thou cost
give me. (Commentary)
from merizo = divide - draw
different directions ~ distraction) by continually being (present tense)
drawn in different directions, describing a habit of worrying or
being anxious --
a veritable lifestyle of worry.
single hour - We cannot add neither hour nor hair for
earlier Jesus said...
you cannot make one hair
white or black.
(prostithemi from prós = to or besides +
títhemi = put) means to add something to an existing
quantity. The Greek phrase may refer to adding time to one’s
lifespan or to one's stature (height).
question we need to ask is "Will worrying accomplish anything
positive whatsoever?" In fact instead of adding "a single
hour" worry tends to distract and breeds a loss of focus
which results in
loss of potentially productive time, not to mention the
potentially damaging effects on one's health and longevity.
Anxiety is the
interest paid on trouble before it is due
(4083) (pechus) "cubit" is the length of a
man's forearm from the inside of the elbow to the end of the
longest finger. Worry about the future is futile and a
dishonor to God because it is an issue of not trusting in His
sovereignty or total control.
can add an hour or an inch to life by worrying. In fact, worry
does the opposite, reducing our life span and robbing us of
joy. We must remember that our attitude is our choice.
J C Ryle writes that Jesus
points out the uselessness of over-anxiety. Our life is
certainly in God’s hand; all the care in the world will not
make us continue a minute beyond the me which God has
appointed. We cannot add one hour to our lives; we shall not
die till our work is done. (Matthew
6:25-34 Expository Thoughts)
(helikia from helix = adult, full–aged) refers
to maturity of life in terms of either stature or size.
saying in essence "Who by worrying can add an inch to his
height or a single moment to his life?" The answer of course
is no one can. This is the paradox about worry. In a manner of
speaking, a man can "worry himself to death", but he cannot
worry himself into a longer life! The writer of Hebrews says
inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this
comes judgment (He 9:27-note)
one appointment every person must keep and which cannot be
postponed or rescheduled. Ray Pritchard illustrates with a
humorous tale of two baseball players, George and John,
One day they were talking
and John said, "Do you think they play baseball in heaven?" "I
don't know," said George, "But if I get there before you do,
I'll try to come back and let you know." Well, the very next
week George died suddenly. A few days later John was out
walking by himself when he heard a voice call his name. He
looked around but no one was there. The voice called his name
again. "Is that you, George?" he whispered. "Yes, it's me,"
said the voice. "Well, do they play baseball up there?" The
voice answered, "John, I've got some good news and some bad
news about that. The good news is, they play baseball up here
all the time. The bad news is, they've got you scheduled to
pitch next week." That's the way life is. One day you're
shoveling snow; the next day you're pitching for the Angels.
But it could happen to any of us...Nothing you can do can
change that fact in the least. The whole matter is in God's
hands. So to worry about terminal illness or a freak accident
is pointless. Nothing you can do makes the slightest
difference. You cannot by worrying add a single second to your
That lifts a tremendous
load off your shoulders, doesn't it? You're going to die
someday. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe later this year.
But maybe not for fifty years. Maybe suddenly. Maybe slowly.
Only God knows how it will happen. But that means you are
living on borrowed time. Only God knows when your time is up
and your appointment has come. That means you don't have to
worry about dying. That's out of your hands. Therefore, you
are free to relax, enjoy life, live each day to the fullest
and go for all the gusto you can get. And let God worry about
how things turn out. (Matthew 6:25-34 Three
Things Not To Worry About)
why are you worried about clothing?:
peri endumatos ti merimnate? (2PPAI):
(Mt 6:25,31; 10:10; Luke 3:11; 22:35,36)
has an interesting
Undue care is an intrusion
into God's arena. It makes us the father of the household instead of
being a child.
Anxiety harasses the soul; it
enfeebles, irritates, ruffles the temper, is a sign of mistrust and of
failing obedience, and distracts the mind from communion with God. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
28, 29. Clothes must not be
made much of; for in our finest array, flowers far excel us.
We must not be anxious about how we shall be clad; for the
field lilies, not under the gardener’s care, are as glorious
as the most pompous of monarchs; and yet they enjoy life free
from labor and thought. Lovely lilies, how ye rebuke our
foolish nervousness! The array of lilies comes without fret:
why do we kill ourselves with care about that which God gives
to plants which cannot care?
My Lord, I would grow to thy praise as the lily cloth, and be
content to be what thou cost make me, and wear what thou cost
give me. (Commentary)
= divide - draw different directions - which is exactly
what anxiety does to most of us!) expresses a strong feeling for
something or someone, often to the point of being burdened.
Although this can be a "positive" concern, in most of the NT
uses it refers to an anxious concern, based on apprehension
about possible danger or misfortune, and so it means to be
worried about, to be anxious about, to be apprehensive
(viewing the future with anxiety or alarm), to be unduly
concerned, to be burdened with anxious care or cumbered with
many cares and in simple terms to worry. The idea inherent in
merimnao is of attempting to
carry the burden of the future oneself and of unreasonable
anxiety especially about things over which one has no control.
has a fascinating etymology which can be traced back to the
Old High German "wurgen" which means "to strangle" which is
what worry does to our joy! Webster adds that in "dialect
British" worry means to "choke" or to "strangle". The first
definition of "worry" in Webster is
"to harass by tearing,
biting, or snapping especially at the throat", and then "to
subject to persistent or nagging attention or effort" and "to
afflict with mental distress or agitation = make anxious".
(Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed.
The English word
anxious also has a fascinating derivation from the Latin word
anxius which is akin to the Latin verb angere which means to
strangle (compare with "worry" above)! Isn't that what anxiety
does to most of us...strangle us and render us ineffective in God's
the present context means to have an anxious concern, based on
apprehension about possible danger or misfortune and is characterized by
extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency and
emphasizes a fear of frustration, failure or disappointment. Worried is in the
which describes worry or anxiety as the habit of ones' life.
a tragic state - a lifestyle characterized by constant
worry! And yet don't many believers live in such a state?
Jesus gives us the antidote to such mental "angst". Perhaps
you need to memorize this section of Scripture so that you can
recall Jesus' words to mind the next time those fiery missiles
of worry and anxiety attack. That's when you need to take up
the shield of faith to buttress yourself from those
distractive, destructive thoughts.
does it mean in this context to take up the shield of faith?
Biblical faith is not based on mental gymnastics but upon
truth, specifically the truth of God's Word. And what is the
truth that the God Man prescribes to counter the poison of
worry? Obviously these passages are part of the answer. And
yet do we really believe Jesus' Words? Do we take the
necessary time to really study (see "observe"
below) His Words? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the
Word of Christ. If we want to be fortified against the attacks
of anxious thoughts, we must obey Jesus' command to closely
and thoroughly study this section of Scripture. And given the
tendency for all of us to forget what we once learned, we need
to make a regular habit of coming back to this section,
pondering it, praying through it, laying hold of it by faith,
as if our very life depended on it, because in one sense it
does! Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word
which proceeds from the mouth of God. We can know these truths
intellectually, but Jesus wants us to know them intimately and
internally... in our heart, in the control center of our very
being. It is not God's will for His precious children to be
fretting and worrying. Anxiety and worry is unavoidable
because we live in a fallen world and even as redeemed
believers still possess the old sin nature inherited from
Adam. And so we are vulnerable to worry and anxiety, but we
don't have to live in this condition continually if we heed
times the sweet Psalmist David tells (commands) us not to
(A Psalm of David.)
Do not fret
evildoers. Be not envious toward wrongdoers. (Why
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like
the green herb.
(a command, not a suggestion) in the LORD, and
(another command - faith that truly believes will behave)
(command) in the land and cultivate faithfulness (What
does "cultivate" picture?
Is this not the
time and effort you would invest in a newly planted, expensive
fruit tree in your backyard. This is working out your
salvation is fear and trembling knowing that you are not alone
in the process, for it is God Who is at work in you, giving
you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases
Him! - see notes
(command) yourself in the LORD (Why?
What is the advantage?)
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
(command) your way to the LORD,
(command) also in Him, and He will do it.
6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and
your judgment as the noonday.
(command) in the LORD and
(command) patiently for Him;
Do not fret
him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries
out wicked schemes.
(command) from anger, and
Do not fret,
it leads only to evildoing. (You might want to read that
again! Notice in verse 1 we are not to fret because of evil
doers and here for the third time David [who well knew about
"evil doers" such as Saul who desired to kill him!] warns us
of the effects on us -- we are led to do evil!)
Spurgeon has these words on Psalm 37...
(Notes on verse 1) It is
alas! too common for believers in their hours of adversity to
think themselves harshly dealt with when they see persons
utterly destitute of religion and honesty, rejoicing in
abundant prosperity. Much needed is the command, Fret not
thyself because of evildoers. To fret is to worry, to have
the heartburn, to fume, to become vexed. Nature is very apt to
kindle a fire of jealousy when it sees lawbreakers riding on
horses, and obedient subjects walking in the mire: it is a
lesson learned only in the school of grace, when one comes to
view the most paradoxical providences with the devout
complacency of one who is sure that the Lord is righteous in
all His acts. It seems hard to carnal judgments that the best
meat should go to the dogs, while loving children pine for
want of it.
Neither be thou envious
against the workers of iniquity. The same advice under
another shape. When one is poor, despised, and in deep trial,
our old Adam naturally becomes envious of the rich and great;
and when we are conscious that we have been more righteous
than they, the devil is sure to be at hand with blasphemous
reasonings (Ed note: "fiery missiles"). Stormy weather may
curdle even the cream of humanity. Evil men instead of being
envied, are to be viewed with horror and aversion; yet their
loaded tables, and gilded trappings, are too apt to fascinate
our poor half opened eyes. Who envies the fat bullock the
ribbons and garlands which decorate him as he is led to the
shambles? Yet the case is a parallel one; for ungodly rich men
are but as beasts fattened for the slaughter.
(Notes on verse 7) Rest
in the Lord. This fifth is a most divine precept, and
requires much grace to carry it out. To hush the spirit, to be
silent before the Lord, to wait in holy patience the time for
clearing up the difficulties of Providence -- that is what
every gracious heart should aim at. "Aaron held his peace:" "I
opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." A silent tongue
in many cases not only shows a wise head, but a holy heart.
And wait patiently for him. Time is nothing to him; let it be
nothing to thee. God is worth waiting for. "He never is before
his time, he never is too late." In a story we wait for the
end to clear up the plot; we ought not to prejudge the great
drama of life, but stay till the closing scene, and see to
what a finis the whole arrives.
Fret not thyself
because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man
who bringeth wicked devices to pass. There is no good, but
much evil, in worrying your heart about the present success of
graceless plotters: be not enticed into premature judgments --
they dishonour God, they weary yourself. Determine, let the
wicked succeed as they may, that you will treat the matter
with indifference, and never allow a question to be raised as
to the righteousness and goodness of the Lord. What if wicked
devices succeed and your own plans are defeated! there is more
of the love of God in your defeats than in the successes of
(Notes on verse 8)
Cease from anger and forsake wrath. Especially anger
against the arrangements of Providence, and jealousies of the
temporary pleasures of those who are so soon to be banished
from all comfort. Anger anywhere is madness, here it is
aggravate insanity. Yet since anger will try to keep us
company, we must resolvedly forsake it. Fret not thyself in
any wise to do evil. By no reasonings and under no
circumstances be led into such a course. Fretfulness lies
upon the verge of great sin. Many who have indulged a
murmuring disposition have at last come to sin, in order to
gain their fancied rights. Beware of carping at others, study
to be yourself found in the right way; and as you would dread
outward sin, tremble at inward repining. (See all of
Spurgeon's notes on Psalm 37 -
Clothing - Why does
Jesus mention food and clothing? Aren't these the basic
necessities of life? And as such these basic elements stand
for all of the things we need to live in this world, including
housing, jobs, money, etc. Jesus is saying don't worry about
any of these things.
Observe how the
lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin: katamathete
(2PAAM) ta krina tou agrou pos auxanousin; ou kopiosin (3PPAI)
oude nethousin: ( Luke 12:27)
Observe (2648) (katamanthano from kata = prefix
to intensify the meaning +
= intentional learning by inquiry & observation,
genuinely understand and accept a teaching accept it as true
and to apply it in one’s life) means to learn thoroughly, to
study carefully so that one learns thoroughly.
Jesus is giving the antidote for worry or
anxiety as a command not a suggestion --
Observe, study (aorist
imperative = do this now, do it effectively, don't delay) the lilies well that may well learn thoroughly
the lesson they teach.
ever seen a worried lily? Do they toil and spin? Of course
not. They don't have to because God takes care of them. But
children of God are living souls of infinitely more value than
the lilies of the field, for they have been redeemed by the
precious blood of the Lamb. God will make sure your body is
clothed with what you need.
Campbell Morgan comments on the Lord's teaching regarding
"They toil not, neither do
they spin; yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his
was not arrayed like one of these."
Did you imagine that was
figurative, an overstrained metaphor? Take that flower, that
huleh lily, gorgeous and beautiful in its coloring, and put it
by the side of Solomon in his magnificence, in his robes of
gold and silver and jewels and splendor the lily is more
beautifully clothed than Solomon.
- Take the finest fabric
that monarch ever wore, and submit it to microscopic
examination, and it is sackcloth.
- Take the lily and submit
its garment of delicate velvet to microscopic examination and
investigation, and the more perfect your lens the more
exquisite the weaving of the robe of the lily will be seen to
CHRIST is not indulging in
hyperbole. He is stating cold fact No garment loomed to the
finest and softest texture is anything but rough sackcloth
when placed by the side of the drapery with which He clothes
CHRIST says: Open your
eyes, My children, and look at the lilies lying scattered over
the valleys and mountains, growing among thorns, and know that
when GOD makes the lily, kings desire and cannot obtain such a
robing. Looking at the flower, and seeing all its decking,
He Who clothes the
Will clothe His children too.
There is not a flower and
not a petal which, in exquisite finish and delicate
perfection, would not put all the robes of a king to shame.
But all this is true not
only of those flowers of Palestine. Consider the daisy of the
English fields, the sweet and simplest flower which you tread
beneath your feet; and a king in all his robes of state is not
arrayed like one of these. (Matthew
J C Ryle writing that Jesus
tells us to look at the flowers of the field. Year after year
they are decked with the brightest colors, without the
slightest labor or exertion on their part: “they do not labor
or spin”. God, by His almighty power, clothes them with
beauty every season. The same God is the Father of all
believers. Why should they doubt that He is able to provide
them with clothing, just as He cares for the “lilies of the
field”? Anyone who thinks about perishable flowers will
surely not neglect the bodies in which immortal souls dwell. (Matthew
6:25-34 Expository Thoughts)
O Lord! How Happy Should We Be
O Lord! how happy should we be,
If we could leave our cares to Thee,
If we from self could rest;
And feel at heart that One above,
In perfect wisdom, perfect love,
Is working for the best.
How far from this our daily life
How oft disturbed by anxious strife,
By sudden wild alarms;
Oh, could we but relinquish all
Our earthly props, and simply fall
On Thy Almighty arms
Could we but kneel and cast our care
Upon our God in humble prayer,
With strengthened souls we rise,
Sure that our Father Who is nigh,
To hear the ravens when they cry,
Will hear His children’s cries.
We cannot trust Him as we should;
So chafes weak nature’s restless mood
To cast its peace away;
But birds and flowerets round us preach,
All, all the present evil teach
Sufficient for the day.
Lord, make these faithless hearts of ours
Such lessons learn from birds and flowers,
And learn from self to cease;
Leave all things to a Father’s will,
And taste, before Him lying still
E’en in affliction, peace!
I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed
himself like one of these:
(1SPAI) de humin hoti oude Solomon en pase te doxe autou
periebaleto (3SAMI) os en touton:
.(1Kings 10:5, 6, 7; 2Chronicles 9:4, 5, 6,20, 21, 22;
1Timothy 2:9,10; 1Peter 3:2, 3, 4, 5)
Solomon in all his glory - A man does not get much more
glorious than Solomon, in terms of his material possessions.
Read these representative passages..
Chronicles 9:22 we read that...
King Solomon became greater
than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
The Queen of Sheba gave an apt commentary on Solomon
in all his glory in 1 Kings 10...
4 When the queen of Sheba
perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had
5 the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the
attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers,
and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD,
there was no more spirit in her.
6 Then she said to the king, "It was a true report which I
heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.
7 "Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came
and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me.
You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.
8 "How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your
servants who stand before you continually and hear your
9 "Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you to set
you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel
forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and
righteousness." (Notice what the recognition of Solomon's
glory prompted in the Queen of Sheba? Was it envy? Clearly
not. In fact it prompted in her an anthem of praise to the
(periballo from perí = about, round about +
bállo = to cast) means to throw all around and so to array
mentions Solomon, which would evoke in the minds of His
Jewish audience a king whose reign was the most resplendent
and magnificent of all the kings of Israel. What could be more
"glorious" than the reign of King Solomon? In short, a lily of
the field, one clothed by God Himself. Surely this comparison
would convince the doubters that God would also clothe them.
THE LESSON OF
BIRDS AND FLOWERS
by F B Meyer
that is, the pure Intention, of the soul ceases to be single
when it is diverted by the covetous desire to hoard up money.
It may also be diverted by the constant pressure of anxiety.
As, therefore, our Lord has been dealing with avarice, which
is the special temptation of the well-to-do and prosperous, so
now He turns to deal with the special temptation of the poor,
which is anxious care.
course, wealth has its anxieties as well as poverty. The rich
man, whose wealth may be swept away in an hour by a panic on
the Stock Exchange, may toss on a sleepless pillow, whilst the
labouring man, who cannot see beyond the needs of the week,
may be sleeping soundly through the small hours. But the
anxiety of those who, in any event, will always be certain of
being provided with the necessaries of life is surely less
excusable than the care of the poor man, who has no nest-egg
against a rainy day, who may at any moment fall sick or lose
his situation, and who may be condemned to see first his home,
and then his scanty wardrobe, stripped first of little
comforts, and then of necessaries, and, when all is gone, his
wife and children becoming every day paler, thinner, and
It is to
be noticed that our Lord's tone is much gentler and more
tender as He turns to address the poor who toil for their
daily bread, and whose slenderly provided table is often
shadowed with the spectre of anxiety about to-morrow's
provision. In the former paragraph there was a tone of stern
remonstrance as He spoke of the absurdity of setting the heart
on things which the thief might steal and the moth corrupt;
but here there is a touch of tender pity and sympathy as lie
says, three times over, "Don't be anxious." He never forgot
that He was the child of the labouring classes; that His
mother, at His birth, had brought the gift of the poor to the
Temple; and that from boyhood He had been accustomed to the
shifts of poverty. His frequent speech about patching garments
and using old bottleskins, about the price of sparrows, and
the scanty pittance of a labourer's life, indicate that His
mind was habituated to the experiences of the poor. Ever since
lie had left His mother's home, abandoning the trade which had
secured slender provision for Himself and others, He had known
what it was to have no place in which to shelter for the
night, and to subsist on the chance gifts of charity and
words "take no thought" of the Authorized Version do not
represent the true force of the phrase as used by our Lord. We
are endowed with the faculty of foresight, of scanning the
horizon, of anticipating the lowering storm-clouds, and of
taking in our sails. "He that provideth not for his own," says
the Apostle, "is worse than an unbeliever ", and provision
involves foresight. But there is all the difference in the
world between foresight and foreboding. It is the latter, not
the former, that our Lord chides. A wise man must lay his
carefully considered plans, and work for their accomplishment.
The farmer must sow in the autumn for the coming harvest. The
importer must arrange, months beforehand, for the arrival of
foreign produce at a given time when the home markets will be
ripe for it. The manufacturer is already preparing the
season's goods for next year. But when all has been done that
can be done, our Lord says: "You must leave the results with
God: you have done all that you could do; now leave the
results with your heavenly Father."
words which are suggested by the Revised Version, instead of
"Take no thought," are "Be not anxious.'' The Greek word
implies that the mind is divided and broken up from the main
object and purpose of existence by the constant pressure of
foreboding care. As the force of a stream is lessened if the
waters are diverted into two or three channels, so the force
of heart and life dwindle when the perpetual dread of failure
and loss call off the soul from its primary intention and aim.
How can a man do his best work if he is paralyzed by
foreboding as to the contents of to-morrow? When the mind is
stricken with panic, tossed to and fro with distraction, and
filled with pictures of penury and destitution; when every
sight of wife and family only awakens deeper dread of what may
await them; when paragraphs in the daily papers prophesy the
pressure of hard times, how can the soul do its best work? It
is divided, distracted, and torn.
paragraph our Lord is dealing principally with food and
raiment, the simple needs of an agricultural and pastoral
people. And there are myriads around us on whose lips these
questions are perpetual. "What shall we eat? What shall we
drink? Wherewithal shall we be clothed? Clearly we are
creatures of two worlds. Our minds hunger for truth and our
hearts for love. "Man doth not live by bread alone." And there
are anxieties for others, for their clothing in the garments
of purity and holiness, for their feeding on the fare of the
truth of God, and for their housing in the love of God, which
are far more pressing and imperative than the care for their
physical and temporal well-being. All these dividing thoughts
are equally forbidden when our Lord says
"Do not be anxious."
times over we hear this sweet refrain, Be not anxious, Matt.
6:25-30; Be not therefore anxious, Matt. 6:31-33; Be not
therefore anxious, Matt. 6:34.
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT
of the Body, the Mind, or the Heart.
"The life is more than the food" (Matt. 6:25).
gave life He caused it to be dependent on the sustenance which
is provided from field and orchard. It is by His own
contrivance and ordering that we must be nourished by the
fruits of the soil; and surely He will not be so unreasonable
as to create the need and to contrive the perpetual recurrence
of appetite, and then fail in meeting both. If He has given
life, does not that gift implicate its support? He must have
had a purpose in the donation of life to any one of us, and
surely He will be responsible for the food which is necessary,
if His original purpose is not to be frustrated!
Are ye not of much more value than the birds of the heaven?
Lord was speaking flocks of pigeons were flying overhead;
swallows were darting in the air for insects; sparrows were
flying, chirping, from stone to stone in search of food. All
this wonderful and multitudinous bird-life, so blithe and
happy, was a matter of constant interest to the child-heart of
Jesus, and seemed to rebuke foreboding fear. These little
feathered creatures do not perform a stroke of work for their
living. They do not provide their food, but only take what the
Creator gives, as He opens His hand to supply their need. That
which He giveth them they gather. You may walk for days
through the forests and find no dead bird. I grant you that
the wild things of the woods do perish at certain seasons, but
before we charge this on any want of care on the part of the
Creator it would have to be shown that the balance of creation
had not been disturbed by human interference. Do we not
prognosticate the advent of a hard winter by the abundance of
berries on the hedges, and is not that the Divine provision
for the birds of the air, who have neither storehouse nor
barn? Surely if our heavenly Father feeds these tiny
creatures, which are the pensioners on His bounty, who can do
nothing to help themselves, He will not be unmindful of His
children! "Your heavenly Father feedeth them, are ye not much
better than they?"
Besides, "Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto
his stature?" or (as the margin suggests) to his age.
the Lord is not speaking of our physical stature, for it would
be an unheard-of thing, and one for which none would be
specially solicitous, to add a foot and a half to his stature!
He is evidently alluding to the length of human life, of which
the Psalmist says: "Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth."
After all, the length of our years has been fixed by God; and
we are immortal till our work is done. All our anxiety will
not add an inch or a yard to the path that we are destined to
tread between our cradle and our grave. God has measured it
out with exact precision, and He will supply all our need
until the day's march is ended and the day's labour fulfilled.
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT
All the animals have their covering, the lamb its wool, the
kitten its fur, the fledgling its fluffy down, but man is born
naked, and requires clothing for modesty and warmth.
evidently the intention of the Creator, and He has filled the
world with the materials of our supply. May we not hold Him
responsible to meet the needs of His own creation? Did he not
clothe Adam and Eve with the skins of beasts already slain in
sacrifice? Does He not provide for the soul the white and
dazzling raiment if imputed righteousness with which we are
arrayed before all worlds? And will He neglect the body? "The
body is more than raiment." If He bestows the one so curiously
and wondrously wrought, surely He will give the other.
Besides, look again into nature at the growth of the flowers.
time when Jesus spoke the fields were carpeted with wild
flowers. Palestine in those days was the land, not of milk
only, bespeaking the rich pastures, but of honey, because the
air was redolent with the breath of myriads of wild flowers,
bespangling the pastures, clustering in the hedgerows, and
hiding in the woodland glades. Theirs was as careless a life
as that of the birds. "They toil not, neither do they spin."
For some, no doubt, the exotics of our greenhouses and
nurseries, there must be excessive care in the provision of
greenhouse heat and the experienced skill of the
horticulturist; but the Lord was not alluding to these, but to
the flowers of the grass, which grew amid the wilds of nature
or in the gardens of the poor, and were cut down by the scythe
or gathered to perish quickly in the hot hand of the careless
child. To Him these were exquisitely beautiful. Of the Son of
Man it may be said with peculiar appropriateness that "the
meanest flower that blew awakened thoughts too deep for
tears." The wild flowers of His native land were, in His eyes,
attired in garments more rare and beautiful than the gorgeous
magnificence of Israel's greatest king. "Solomon in all his
glory was not arrayed like one of these." How quietly they
grew, far apart from the clatter of machinery, the throw of
the shuttle, the revolution of the wheel! How modestly and
unobtrusively they concealed themselves from the glare of
publicity in dells and woodland glades! How simple in their
chaste and lovely garb!
they teach? Was not this the lesson of their growth that God
loves the beautiful, and expends thought and skill in its
production? He might have made the world without a daisy, and
human life without childhood. Considerations of stern utility
might have imposed their rigorous law on the creation of all
things visible and invisible; but since the Creator clothes
with beauty the short-lived flowers of the wilds, the
ephemeral insects of a summer day, the shells of the minute
creatures that build up the solid fabric of the rocks by the
countless myriads of their tiny homes, surely this
prodigality, this lavishness, this prolific superabundance of
creativeness, must mean that He can and will withhold no good
thing from them that fear Him, least of all clothes for their
nakedness and warmth.
course we must fulfil our part. We are not to imitate the
careless improvident life of the lower orders of creation. We
must certainly sow and reap and gather into barns; we must
certainly toil if we are men, and spin if we are women; but
when we have done all, we must fall back on the Divine
Providence, believing that it is vain for us to rise up early,
and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows, because our God
will give us all we need, even whilst we sleep. He will not
allow His children to starve or go unsheltered, unclothed and
unshod. "Therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat,
or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?"
ANXIOUS: it is Heathenism. "After all these things do the
Gentiles seek." The blue waters of the Mediterranean were
almost within sight, reminding the Speaker of the great
nations that lay on their shores, and launched their navies on
their bosom. He knew that whilst some might be feeling after
God, if haply they might find Him, or be found of Him, the
bulk of them had refused to retain Him in their knowledge, and
had exchanged the Creator for the creature. He knew, moreover,
that to most of them there was either no God or that they
deemed Him too far removed from sublunary things to have any
interest in their lives. Of what good, then, was it to pray to
Him? For many the supreme conception was of fate, destiny, or
chance, as the presiding arbiter and ruler of their,
darkness of such conceptions, what could be expected but that
the grim spectre of care should haunt every life, and sit
uninvited at every table. When man has no knowledge of the
Divine Fatherhood, what defence has he against sudden, wild
alarms, or insidious corroding care?
those whom our Lord addressed had been taught to regard God as
their Heavenly Father; and to us the revelation has been more
explicit than ever to them. We know that we are sons of God,
begotten unto a living hope, partakers of the Divine Nature,
adopted into the Divine family. We are conscious that the
Spirit of Sonship is in our hearts, witnessing that we have
been born from above. We realize that we are not only sons,
but heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Our
Father loves us, knows our frame, views us with paternal
pitifulness, and longs to bring us to glory. He has given us
His Son and His Spirit: surely He will not withhold the food
and raiment of our body. He has given the infinitely great:
surely He will not grudge the small. "He that spared not His
own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not
with Him also freely give us all things?"
NOT ANXIOUS: there are other and greater Interests at
Stake. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness." It is the great object of God that His
long-expected kingdom should come; that purity as of the dawn
should replace the reign of corruption and night; and that
life should replace death, and love hatred. For this He has
been at work all through the long centuries, nor will He stay
His hand till angel-voices proclaim that the kingdoms of this
world have become the kingdoms of His Christ.
great kindness He has called us in to help Him accomplish His
great purpose, and lays it upon us as a special burden that we
should not rest, nor allow Him to rest, until the kingdom
come, and His will be done on earth as in heaven. For this we
must labour and pray. Be anxious for this, if you will. Lie
awake at night to mourn over the condition of lost souls, if
you can. Expend tears and prayers in untiring supplication for
the lost. Whilst you care for God's concerns God will care for
great contractor who has undertaken a line of railway, or the
construction of a vast reservoir among the hills, knows the
necessity of providing for the well-being of the thousands of
navies engaged with their spades or trowels. If they are to do
work which will not disgrace him, he at least must see that
their physical health and well-being are guaranteed. Is it
likely, then, that God will be less careful and thoughtful of
his own sons, whom He has called into fellowship with Himself?
Does He not know that we shall do our best work when we are
free from anxious care? Is He so unrighteous as to forget us,
who labour day and night for the purpose which lies so near
His heart? It is impossible to suppose it; but as we seek His
kingdom, He will seek our welfare with both hands, earnestly
and carefully. Rest on this promise, which He gave who is
incarnate truth, "All these things shall be added."
NOT ANXIOUS, it will not Rob to-morrow of its Anxiety,
though it will Deprive to-day of its Strength. "Take,
therefore, no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will be
anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof." From these words it is clear that every morrow will
have some anxiety, and every day some evil. No sky without
some clouds to fleck its blue, no lot without its crook, no
Paschal lamb without its bitter herbs. We shall never be
totally free from anxiety of one kind or another until we have
passed the gates of pearl.
much we worry to-day in the hope of anticipating and
cancelling the worry of to-morrow, we shall not succeed. There
always will be something to cause us annoyance, perplexity,
and chagrin. But as the day, so will the strength be, just
enough, with not one grain to spare. Indeed, the anxiety will
be permitted to drive us to the strong for strength, as a hard
winter will drive even the timid deer down to the homes of
worry, therefore, about to-morrow is to overpress the strength
of to-day, which is enough for to-day's burden, but not enough
for to-day's and to-morrow's also. If you try to carry
to-day's burdens by actual endurance, and to-morrow's by
anticipation, what wonder that you break down, aging
prematurely, and sowing plentiful silver among the black locks
of young manhood.
these reasons let us not be anxious. "Be careful for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving; let your requests be made known unto God, and
the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep
your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus." (F. B. Meyer.
The Directory of the Devout Life.)
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